All posts by Keira M. Smith

MLSFemale Holiday Gift Guide

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

December has descended upon us and with it, the pressure to find the “perfect holiday gift” for the special people in your life.  Don’t worry, we’ve got lots of options here for you, whether you or your loved one is a fan of MLS, Liga MX, USWNT or the European leagues. Some of these companies are offering a discount for MLSFemale readers and others still have Cyber Monday/Black Friday deals going on.


Talisman & Co

Whether you are looking for stocking stuffer pins, unique embroidered caps, vintage jerseys from all over the globe, throwback hoodies or tees, Talisman & Co, out of St Paul, Minnesota, has you covered.  They also have beautiful fan gear for your Minnesota United fan.  

For 10% off, use code MLSFEMALE. Talismancaps.com

fullsizeoutput_64a0
Talisman Brandi Cap $35 – Made in collaboration with Brandi Chastain

Away Days Football

Looking for gifts for the younger soccer fans in your life?  Away Days gives your little footie fan the element of surprise in the form of a mystery soccer kit from the 2018/19 season.  Kids sizing ranges from 8-18 and features mostly larger clubs.  Adult mystery kits combine both larger and smaller clubs. All kits are 100% authentic and brand new. Awaydaysfootball.com


De Fút apparel

De Fút’s apparel and goods are “inspired by the culture, icons and heritage of world football.”  Gift options range from women’s and men’s streetwear to sleek water bottles to elegantly designed notebooks and pencils. Use code MLSFEMALE for 15% off your order. defutsoccer.com


On The Volley Apparel

On The Volley Apparel offers a wide range of graphic tanks, tees and sweatshirts with a minimalist flare.  You can even nab a Cooligans “Stay Gully” Talisman Cap.  At the core OTVA believes that “we are all part of football culture. It is not about how good your league is, or about how many people come watch your team play, but about how much you love the game. It’s about the bond created with your team, and the entire football community.”  We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. onthevolleyapparel.com/

img_0918
OTVA Owl Hoodie $37.99

Live Breathe Fútbol

Do you have a Portland Thorns or Sporting Kansas City fan in the family?  Check out the merchandise at Live Breathe Fútbol for a variety of stylish apparel appropriate for cold and wet weather as well as great stocking stuffers. livebreathefutbol.com

img_0938
Thorns FC Crewneck Sweatshirt $65

Soccer teams III Flip Flops by Havaianas

Who doesn’t love flip-flop weather?  Now you can show pride in your favorite national team while giving your feet some fresh air. US.Havaianas.com

img_0916
Soccer Teams III Colombia Flip Flops $12

Upper 90 Gift Card

Upper 90 has everything an active soccer fan could need. With three New York Metro region store locations and an online store, you can get anything from goalkeeper gloves to a personalized Real Madrid jersey.   Not sure what to pick? Give them the gift of shopping for themselves with an Upper90 gift card. U90Soccer.com

img_0940

FuboTv Subscription

Most soccer fans never have enough gear but if you or your loved one has limited storage space, treat them to a subscription to Fubotv.  Fubo allows you to stream live matches via channels such as BeInSports, FS1, Univision, NBCSN, SNY and many more. Fubo.TV/Welcome

img_0942

Happy shopping soccer fans!

Featured and other images: De Fút , Talisman & Co, Away Days Football, Live Breathe Fútbol, Havaianas, Upper 90, Fubo TV

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Movin’ Out, NYCFC’s Song

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

The MLS off-season is in effect and change is afoot for New York City Football Club.  So much change in fact, that each time I wrote something, it was outdated before I finished. As of Wednesday, here are the big takeaways:

After a disastrous MLS conference semi-final result and some apparent soul searching by Head Coach Domènec Torrent, the team was once again left at the altar by their manager.  The rumor mill is full of theories about why Torrent left with most of them circling around his apparent frustration with the tight purse strings of City Football Group and lack of urgency in moving on targeted player acquisitions. Recent rumors about Torrent’s future hint that, despite his prior frustration with MLS’s schedule and team travel restrictions, he has not ruled out coaching another team in the league.

img_0885

According to a report from The Mirror out of Britain, City Football Group are looking to hire Giovanni van Bronckhorst as Head Coach for NYCFC in 2020 as a means to prove he’s an appropriate successor to Pep Guardiola as manager of Manchester City. The Mirror reports that Van Bronckhorst has spent time in New York City and Melbourne – home of sister club Melbourne City FC – in recent months. This has not been announced by the club however, and in fact there is no  head coach listed on NYCFC’s site.

Another huge departure that may speak volumes about the state of the club is Claudio Reyna, Sporting Director, who announced his departure to take the same role for expansion club Austin FC. Reyna has been with the club from Day 1 and has been the face of stability for the team. David Lee, formerly Technical Director, has been promoted from within the organization to Sporting Director.

In other departure news, Ben Sweat was selected in the expansion draft by Inter Miami CF. Sweat is from Florida and it should be a good move for him to potentially earn more playing time, as it became clear through this past season that Ronald Matarrita was the left back of choice for NYCFC.

img_0884

Keaton Parks’ loan from SL Benfica is officially over on 12/31.  It’s to be seen whether he will be back to Portugal in the new year or whether the club will attempt to negotiate new terms for him.

img_0883

In signings news, Tony Rocha, who became a reliable substitute midfielder, renewed his contract with the club. The club also signed Tayvon Gray, a homegrown 17 year old from the club’s academy, who is the first player from the borough of the Bronx.  Gray is a defender with potential to play a variety of positions.  He played a large role in the back line on the club’s U-19 team who were the first club to win back to back US Development Academy National Championships.

img_0881
Tayvon Gray. Image courtesy of @NYCFC

The amount of change does beg the question about the future of the club and how seriously the ownership, City Football Group, actually takes the league and the franchise. It is best summed up by NYCFC fan Coco Kerridge:

“I think it’s fair to say there’s a lot of uncertainty around NYCFC’s next season. On the one hand, we had our best regular season to date: record points, record goals, and top of the East. On the other, we have still failed to really excel in any competition. With the coach changes, and the added pressure of CCL, it’s very hard to predict where we will be this time next year. Then again, we have a strong squad who will hopefully continue to make us proud and play their hearts out. I’m looking forward to seeing what the offseason will bring, and to get right back to cheering on our boys in blue!”

This one is dedicated to Sylvana Budesheim.

Featured and other images: NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

NYCFC’s Postseason Ends with 2-1 Loss to Toronto

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

New York City Football Club’s playoff bid came to an end at the hands of Toronto FC on Wednesday night.  City’s “home field advantage” was anything but as the match was moved to Citi Field in Queens.  If you are reading this, you probably watched the game so a rehash of the event would be a real downer; this will be brief.

 NYCFC did have a few moments in the second half where they looked like their old selves, but the pace and intensity did seem to come from Toronto.  Toronto came in with confidence while City fans were all wondering aloud when the real Maxi Moralez, the resident playmaker, would make his presence known.   Many things were off about this slide over to the the other city baseball stadium, but it merely puts a spotlight on the elephant in the room:  NYCFC has no home.

The result of the match is heart-wrenching for the remaining die-hard fans.  We stayed to try to help comfort our resident 5 year old fan, Axl, last night as he wept into his father’s arms.  What a scene it became, as behind our group embrace, the sky was raining beer cups.   As Toronto players went to celebrate their victory on the pitch beneath their supporters’ section, from one level above them the angry and bitter NYCFC fans were throwing cups and cups of beer at the players.  It was embarrassing and fed right into the stereotype of what City supporters “are”. This behavior of so-called supporters after the match was deplorable and needs to be addressed as such.

img_0649
Image:  NYCFC Twitter

Equally depressing were the online comments and reactions about individual players and their responsibility for the night’s result.  Now, I get that it’s New York and we can love you but will turn on you at any given moment. However, these were particularly harsh and rash reactions, which do nothing but heap more sadness on the players.  These athletes are human beings and they know when they’ve messed up and made mistakes.  They watch them over and over on film.  

The only person these comments “benefit” is that keyboard warrior, for that instant.  I get it — fans were excited to continue on in the season — but someone has to lose in the end.  How does grinding salt into players wounds make anything better?  Think about the worst mistake you’ve ever made professionally.  Would you want people tweeting about how much you suck over and over?  What does that actually do?

Again, back to the no home issue.  Sources say that an announcement is imminent about next season and this will basically state that a large chunk of home games will be played at Citi Field.  This may be an attempt to have more home games on weekends as the Wednesday match situation this past season led to very low fan attendance.  However, the patience of NYCFC fans is wearing thin and the loss at Citi Field last night will only make this an even tougher sell.  The seat “equivalents” between Yankee Stadium and Citi Field were anything but, leaving long time ticket holders separated from their groups and, ahem, putting some raucous City supporters in very close proximity to the visiting supporters’ group section.  

A lot of work would need to be done by the club to address these issues.  Many season ticket holders have already jumped ship or renewed fewer seats in their package.  When the club was sold to the NYC community it was with the understanding that they would be playing out of a baseball field for about 3-5 years and yet here we are with no end in sight.  Or is this the end for fans?

Featured image: NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Match Preview: NYCFC at Philadelphia Union

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

For the last regular season game of the season, New York City Football Club will  face Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium on Sunday.  The Union has been a constant threat in the Eastern Conference all season and are currently locked in a tight battle with Atlanta United for second place in the conference.  Both teams have 55 points, with 33 games played but Atlanta currently hold one more win than Philly.  Both Atlanta and Philadelphia also have 1.67 points per game.  Needless to say, Philadelphia will be throwing all their efforts behind an all out 3 point victory to climb over Atlanta.

Not surprisingly, the Union has a very similar record to NYCFC with a large number of draws this season, particularly when away, and have only lost two matches at home, compared to NYCFC’s one home 2019 defeat. NYCFC’s sole home loss was to Portland Timbers while Philadelphia lost to Toronto FC and (shocker!) Portland Timbers.  Historically head-to-head at Philadelphia, the Union have three wins while NYC have two.  Earlier in the  season when these two teams met in the Bronx, City defeated Philly 4-2.

Philadelphia is expected to rely on striker Kacper Przybylko, who carries the bulk of the team’s goals scored with a tally of 15. And it’s a deep bench:  Marco Fabian and Ilsinho, who commonly come on as subs, are the next top scorers with 6 and 5 goals respectively.

Again with the similarities on paper, NYCFC’s leading goal scorer Héber, also has 15 goals scored.  Héber is expected to return to his role both setting up his partner-in-attacking-crime, Taty Castellanos, and finishing balls anywhere near the net.  I anticipate that the team will be playing to win but will need to be cautious to prevent any further injuries going into the playoffs.  In the last match, a loss at New England (0-2), Héber was just returning from an injury and played more than was optimal, likely due to the lack of Castellanos in that game.  

Castellanos was ineligible to play due to yellow card accumulation.  For the New England match the team also played without Alex Ring and Maxime Chanot – both due to card accumulation – and also without Anton Tinnerholm, out with a concussion.  Chanot and Ring will be back in the lineup for this match.

img_0314

NYCFC’s starting formation will depend a lot on the status of Tinnerholm.  His abilities and attacking mindset at right back allow the team to successfully utilize a 3-4-3 with him in a forward-moving wingback role. The team has found a rhythm and balance when Ronald Matarrita fills this role on the left and Tinnerholm is on the right.  Without Tinnerholm, there is a lot less momentum on the right side and the team needs to rely heavily on the center and left side, making the attacks more predictable and easier to defend by the opposition.  

Erik Miller was brought in to be a back up for Tinnerholm in this role and time will tell whether he can slot in fluidly but, for now, Sebastien Ibeagha has done an excellent job defending and destroying plays in the position of right back, particularly in the match against Atlanta United.  He’s indicated that he is working on his transitions to attacking with overlapping runs down the right flank.  City is going to defend hard and rely heavily on its midfield, especially Maxi Moralez, to get balls to the two headed attacking dragon of Castellanos and Héber.

img_0315

The season will certainly end on an exciting note with NYCFC still in first place in the eastern conference.

All images: Tisha Gale

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

The Concussion Game: NYCFC collides with FC Dallas 1-1

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

If you look at the match statistics it doesn’t look that bad, but boy was yesterday’s New York City Football Club match against FC Dallas an ugly one.  

First, let’s give kudos to Taty Castellanos for scoring the quickest goal in the club’s history, bagging one off a cross by Anton Tinnerholm 39 seconds into the game.  NYCFC did manage to continue with consistent possession in the attacking third for the first quarter of the game.  Those are the positive takeaways from this match in their entirety.

img_0261

One could argue that City was exhausted from a tight match schedule and unaccustomed to playing in the 90 plus degree heat. Whatever the cause, the team for most of the match looked uncharacteristically like laggy video game players with legs made of lead.  

The game was leveled by a one-touch Zdenek Ondrasek rocket which was given to him on a proverbial platter via a sloppy defensive play by Alex Ring. The result should have been a loss if not for poor finishing by Dallas and by goalkeeper Sean Johnson being virtually flawless. Looking back, it seems that once Tinnerholm came off with a potentially serious head injury, everything seemed to fall apart.

img_0263

Soccer, as we all know, is a dangerous sport with the potential for a slew of injuries, but to me the scariest are the head injuries.  Watching the collision between Tinnerholm and FC Dallas’ Brandon Servania was painful. Even more horrifying was that they were both sent back out on the pitch almost immediately.  Neither could continue after a few minutes and fortunately were self-aware enough to say something.  You could hear Tinnerholm saying that he couldn’t see well and his facial expressions fluctuated between blank and confused.  And the hits just kept on coming with Alex Callens uncharacteristically going down after a ball was driven at his head and then Tony Rocha’s head being looked at after a collision.

I’m clearly not a medical professional, but I am aware that a lot of progress has been made in the early diagnosis and treatment of concussions in youth sports.  Long gone are the days when coaches believed that their young athletes could tough it out through a head injury, probably due in part to the press coverage of the traumatic brain injuries of NFL players.  I just can’t understand why the same respect is not given to MLS players.  

Everyone should want to protect their players’ heads and it seems that there could be some simple steps that the league could take to err on the side of caution when dealing with potential concussions:

1- The medical staff needs to take a lot more time in evaluating a possible concussion. In many cases, symptoms don’t show up immediately and putting the athlete back into a physically and mentally taxing environment will exacerbate the brain injury.

2- The three substitution rule should be waived for goalkeepers to be properly assessed for concussions.  This position is particularly vulnerable and medical staff needs time to assess it.  Currently, they rush through this as the keeper would need to be subbed out and replaced,  unable to return to the game if he is cleared.  A backup keeper should be allowed to play while the starting keeper is tended to.

3- An additional 4th substitution should be available for field players if both teams’ medical staff and the referee agree (without input from either coach), that the player needs to be evaluated for a concussion.  If the player is tested more throughly over a longer period of time and is cleared to return to the game, the player’s “concussion sub” comes out and cannot be used again in the match.

We currently don’t know the status of Tinnerholm’s injury but it should be treated with the same urgency and concern as any other physical part of his body.  The team may need to learn to play without him in order for a full recovery.

Next up:  How will this shaky performance impact NYCFC’s must-win match on Wednesday versus a closely trailing (only four points!) Atlanta United?

All images: @NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

NYCFC’s chaotic win over New England Revolution, 2-1

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Walking into our seats tonight, our friend, a row over said “This is going to be Jesús Medina’s night.”  We laughed, winked and then commiserated about missing players due to international duty.  

If you have been following New York City Football Club over the past two years, you are aware that one of the Designated Player spots is occupied by Medina, a now-22 year-old Paraguayan forward who frankly, doesn’t play very much.  There are many theories as to why he has produced paltry goals or assists since his signing in 2018.

Going into this match versus New England Revolution, NYC was down a few key pieces of its regular attacking regiment due to international duty (Ronald Matarrita) and injury (Héber).  The team also went into the game without its regular starting goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who was called up to the US Men’s National Team for international friendly matches.

img_0153

The match was a strange brew of yellow cards, a red card, an early goal, late use of VAR and very uneven possession.  City was down a goal from 2 minutes in and then was up a player from the 7th minute due to a red card ejection for New England’s  Antonio Mlinar Delamea. But City just could not finish.  

NYCFC did not look like a team that was up a player for much of the game as the Revolution defended extremely well and goalkeeper Matt Turner had quite a game of beautiful saves.  Nobody would have predicted that the most important substitution of the match would be in the 60th minute, when Jesús Medina came in for Sebastien Ibeagha.

This substitution reinvigorated the attacking efforts of NYCFC in the middle and attacking thirds of the field.  Ten minutes later, Medina was able to bury a ball into the back of the net, his goal leveling the game. In stoppage time, Medina successfully executed a penalty kick to seal the deal for a NYCFC victory.

img_0154.jpg

I was not only happy for the win for the obvious reasons but also because another City player who was called up for international duty, defender Maxime Chanot, found a way to push back his date of reporting to the Luxembourg National Team until after he played in this game.  Chanot made his life a bit more complicated for the good of the team and his strong play in this match was necessary and much appreciated.

No matter how much chaos, luck, and uneven calls by the officials contributed to this victory, the player who stepped up big is Medina.   He delivered when the team desperately needed it and can consider himself back in City fans’ good graces.  More importantly, our friend Luis can call himself a psychic.

All images: @NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Hudson River Derby Part Deux: NYCFC best the NY Red Bulls 2-1

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

It was NYCFC’s turn to host their regional rival, the New York Red Bulls, during MLS Heineken Rivalry Week.  NYCFC had been on a winning streak, beating both FC Cincinnati and Columbus Crew SC in a congested schedule.  

Although City walked onto the pitch with confidence and spring in their step, everything positive was quickly deflated in the the first few minutes.  The predicted runaway train pace of Red Bulls instantly threw a wrench into NYCFC’s plan of tight possession.

Coach Doménec Torrent has been consistent in his post match talks about the type of game that he wants the team to play, and that plan leaves no room for long balls leading to counter attacks.  

In the first 25 minutes of the match, much of the New York City squad looked like deer caught in the headlights of the incoming Red Bulls high, hard, and fast press.  Every attempt to string together an attacking sequence met by Red Bulls pressure was cut short, sent long and then the counter-attacking hounds were released.

Alex Muyl, who seems to have taken over the ‘lead bad guy with the bad mustache’ role from Sacha Kljesten, put one past Sean Johnson in the 10th minute off a pass by “Kaku” Romero Gamarra.  It was increasingly frustrating to watch.

Then something happened, and I don’t know what “it” was exactly, but NYCFC seemed to remember that they were a good team and trained for this.  

The passing sequences were tight and met by RBNY pressure but City seemed to relax and make calm and smart decisions.  Players remembered to make runs and do crazy things like get open.  Once the offensive spigot opened, NYCFC continued for another good 30 minutes, resulting in a successful PK converted by Maxi Moralez just before half time, and later, a fiery finish off a back heel by Héber in the 53rd minute.  

Forward Alexandru Mitrita must be back to full fitness as he oozed speed, accuracy,  vision, and creativity in generating attacking chances. The score could have been much higher for City, had the goal posts and crossbar not gotten in the way at least three times.  Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles also made some unbelievable saves.

img_0250

The last twenty minutes probably caused many a nail biter, as a revert to old habits with the Red Bulls piercing the midfield and generating attacks were eventually destroyed by either Alex Callens, Maxime Chanot, or Anton Tinnerholm.  

Of course  an altercation was inevitable given the heightened emotions of the match. This time is was between Ronald Matarrita, who came into the game with a yellow card and Red Bulls Michael Murillo.  Although Murillo started the head butting sequence, it was solely Matarrita who was caught and booked, leaving NYCFC to play with 10 men in the last 4 minutes of the match.  Fortunately, RBNY were unable to level the game.

Next Saturday (August 31st) NYCFC will now have to face Vancouver Whitecaps, their farthest geographic opponent, without key player Matarrita on the squad. After that schlep, the team will be back home for three consecutive games facing New England, Toronto, and San Jose.

71818a5f-0007-480c-a50f-ff012884c0fb

Oh and by the way, New York is blue.

All images are by  Tisha Gale // Twitter: @TishaGale // Instagram: @tishagale15

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

NYCFC cuts off the Columbus Crew 1-0

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

New York City Football Club faced off against an inconsistent Columbus Crew and managed to pull out a win.  As I’ve said recently, I was nervous about how this game would play out. As low on the table as Columbus sits, they have recently taken down good teams on the road, such as during their match with the New York Red Bulls.

img_0019

The Good

Defenders Alex Callens and Anton Tinnerholm returned to the lineup from minor injuries.  The first half was smooth sailing for NYCFC as they maintained tight possession in the middle and attacking third –  70% possession in fact.  

The attacking partnership of Héber and Taty Castellanos looked strong with both attempting through balls and diagonal runs in or around the box. Sometimes the passes were a hair off, but it looks like they are getting more and more in sync each game.  Castellanos also continued his goal scoring run by putting one in off a pass by Maxi Moralez in the 36′.  

The NYCFC attack was complemented by the left wing runs of Ronald Matarrita, which opened up space in the middle.  It must be noted that the eternally peppy Mata will attempt to chase down any and all passes.  In this match, his aerial crosses were not necessarily hitting their target, but they worked to scramble the Crew’s defense in front of the goal.  Columbus Crew’s goalkeeper Eloy Room worked very hard in the first half to keep it to one goal allowed.

img_0018

The Bad

The immediate reaction after the match was that NYCFC played terribly in the second half.  The main difference was Pedro Santos being subbed into the game for the Crew.  He played on another level from the rest of the fielded Crew team last night and is incredibly hard to predict and defend.  

Santos’ bursts of speed and runs into open space set NYC’s defense on their heels causing the team to lose patience with their tried and true plan of tight possession which had been set forth by head coach Dome Torrent .  Once Santos entered the equation, the team seemed to get impatient and would send long balls or crosses too soon and then were quickly needing to deal with the ensuing counter attacks.

A bit more good, though

With James Sands out for 6-8 weeks with a broken collarbone and Ebenezer Ofori out with a knee injury , Tony Rocha started at midfield and looked like he’s been drinking the Dome Kool-Aid.  With his short quick passes to and from Maxi while making diagonal runs and his physical defensive pressure, he appears to be settling into the lineup.

Maxime Chanot defended extremely well throughout both halves, while goalkeeper Sean Johnson had to become very active in the second half.   At one point fans were worried about both of them as they  were down and clutching their heads after saving an attempt on goal.  Minutes later, Johnson saved a goal just outside the box with his own head.

So many questions

I can say that home fans breathed a sigh of relief to escape that game with three points.  Next up is a match with regional rival NY Red Bulls on Saturday.  

How will NYCFC deal with the typical RBNY high press?  Will they stay patient and stick to their game plan?  With RBNY’s physical style, will Matarrita start with a yellow card on his back?  Will RBNY be able to start the seemingly injured goalkeeper Luis Robles? Will any of this matter as Red Bulls seem to be the LA Galaxy to NYCFC’s West coast counterpart LAFC?

All photos by Juan Carlos Rubiano // IG: @ohcitysaidi // Twitter: @OhCitySaidI

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

NYCFC at a Crossroads

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

New York City Football Club seems to be at a crossroads now with three games ahead in tight succession between Saturday and August 24th.  The talk amongst fans is how many points is reasonable to expect from these matches and where the season will go from there.

I don’t like to jinx things but…

Despite NYCFCs drop in the rankings after Sunday’s game, I’m not concerned. New York City still has 3 games in hand with 23 played while Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia and Atlanta have played 26 and 25 respectively.   If NYCFC can keep its act together in the next three matches, important points can be gained and they can climb up the table. 

img_9257

Sunday’s match versus Atlanta United in “Atlan-turf” ended with a 2-1 loss, with momentum and possession clearly with the home squad.  It was a ticky-tacky match with a lot of contact, simulation, and aggression. 

NYCFC head coach Dome Torrent stated after the match that “You have to be brave to play Atlanta” and it did appear that the team was intimidated by the former champions. Perhaps it was the uncertainty about the fitness of midfielder Maxi Moralez and striker Héber but City did not play with confidence. 

Nevertheless, a home field Atlanta is theoretically supposed to win.  They consistently draw a huge crowd, are on an upward swing with their season and are very accustomed to playing on artificial turf.

img_9259

Upcoming matches

New York City travels to face FC Cincinnati on 8/17

It’s no  secret that FC Cincy sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.  Is this a potential trap game?  With Maxi Moralez perhaps not at 100%, Dome Torrent will may keep him rested and play him only if needed.  NYCFC should completely dominate FC Cincinnati but Dome may be playing to ensure everyone is healthy to face…

Columbus Crew at home on 8/21

Columbus has not had a great season but it has very talented players and they are capable of slaying giants.  (See their win over Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena.) Victory is not a foregone conclusion and City will need to balance strong defending of Gyasi Zardes and Pedro Santos while playing the tight possession-centric style that has served them well. 

RBNY at home on 8/24

We need to talk about the strange voodoo powers that RBNY seems to have over NYCFC.  City faces them year in and year out and it seems that NYC either gets completely trounced or barely squeaks by.   (We also see this in the western conference with LAFC versus LA Galaxy.  LAFC can have the best record in the league but just can’t beat the Galaxy.)

There are two ways to look at this game:  Everyone is fit and prepared to go all in and get a win, no matter how many limbs are left on the field or the team plays for a draw, keeping most players from getting injured and look ahead to the rest of the season. 

A lot of the noise in players’ heads will be determined by the results of the two prior games.  If they handedly beat Cincinnati and Columbus, I predict that they will walk onto the pitch with chests puffed out and ready to go for a big win. If not, they will play tentatively and will be lucky to gain a point.  

img_9260

 

 All images including featured image by NYCFC.com

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Maxi Moralez’s huge presence on NYCFC

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

In the last few days more media attention has been brought to New York City Football Club’s Designated Player, midfielder Maxi Moralez.  

His stats speak for themselves, (he currently leads the league with 13 assists and additionally has made 6 goals), but to those who have been following his career in New York, the numbers barely scratch the surface of the artful and creative style which is Maxi’s signature.  Maxi seems to be everywhere you need him while maintaining an overall vision of his teammates’ positioning.  It is a treat to watch him week in and week out.  

Last year NYCFC fans staged a virtual internet sit-in surrounding the MLS All-Star game by organizing the voting in of almost the entire Atlanta United team and refusing to vote in any of their own.  The general sentiment was that NYCFC was doing well (ironically right after this, the season started tanking) and that our players should not be wasting their time playing in a useless game where they risked potential injury on the artificial turf. 

With Atlanta as the run away front runner, other teams’ (ahem, NYCFC) fans were attempting to find any way to slow them down.  ‘Let them play in a game that doesn’t count! They think they are so great!  Maybe they’ll get hurt!’  

This season, perhaps because there is much yet to be decided in the Eastern Conference, New York City fans were less salty and overall more supportive of Maxi Moralez’s representation of the team in the MLS All-Star game. Maxi was about to head off to Orlando when he tweaked his calf in the game versus Sporting Kansas City.  The injury is apparently minor, but in order to protect him Coach Dome Torrent will be resting Maxi on Saturday in the away match versus Real Salt Lake.  

Let’s be clear:  Maxi deserves both to be recognized as an MLS All-Star and get some rest.  In general, Maxi’s roles in relation to the rest of this team reminds me of the role many mothers play within their family units. 

Both Maxi and most mothers are constantly running in 17 different directions, while keeping long term goals in their sights.  Both Maxi and many moms are their team/family’s  “emergency phone calls”, are constantly aware of everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and when there’s an opportunity for a family member to learn on their own.  They know how to motivate others and experience joy at their teammate’s successes.

They don’t ask for their own spotlight and play hurt.  Both never stop moving until they drop and set others up for glory.  They know when others need to be scolded and when to protect them.  They know when to stay calm and when it’s time to raise hell.  All of these qualities are regularly demonstrated by Maxi Moralez, and NYCFC would be a far less cohesive unit and a far less successful team without him.  

As reported by MLS.com, Moralez stated in a pre-All Star Game player Q&A, that he would like to possibly end his career where he began, in Argentina.  There is a very strong chance that Maxi, a married 32 year old father with young children of his own, in his final year of his DP contract, is playing his last few months with the club.  He deserves to end his career on his own terms, but as a fan of the team I wonder what this will mean for its future. 

We will get a small taste of how the club plays without its ‘mom’ on Saturday against Real Salt Lake.  Like a grown child moving out of the house to pursue a job or education, they’d better get used to it.  

All Images:  NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale